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New Nuclear Power in Europe

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In April 2023, Western Europe’s first new nuclear reactor in over 15 years began operating in Finland. Olkiluoto 3 is the most powerful reactor in Europe, and it is intended to make the country’s electricity grid more self-sufficient and secure. It is already producing about 15% of Finland’s electricity, and it is built to remain in operation for well over 60 years. The operating company stated, “This is a significant addition to clean domestic production that will stabilise the price of electricity and play an important role in Finland’s green transition.” The country now has five nuclear reactors located on the Baltic Sea, and together they provide more than 40% of the nation's electricity.  

This new reactor is a good example of the advanced technology that makes modern nuclear plants much safer than their predecessors. As a result of these improvements the fears that started with the Chernobyl accident in 1986 have subsided, and several European countries are investing in clean modern nuclear power. France plans to build at least six new reactors, and possibly as many as 14. The UK wants to reduce its reliance on oil and gas by building eight new nuclear reactors, reversing what it describes as "decades of underinvestment".

Finland also wants to increase its production of nuclear energy, and their prime minister has said that nuclear power should be “the cornerstone of the government’s energy policy.” In furtherance of this goal they have joined with ten other countries to form the Alliance for Nuclear Power in Europe. This initiative was inspired by France which has long been the European leader in nuclear power. All of the countries have signed a declaration stating that, “Nuclear power should be recognized as one of many tools to achieve our climate goals, to generate reliable electricity and to ensure security of supply.” The group is made up of France, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Their objective is to promote research, innovation and uniform safety rules, while also exploring how cooperation could lead to the construction of more reactors.

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